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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Customer contact and data security: telephone contact: telephone technique: questioning techniques

During the course of the call with the customer, you will need to get information from them to enable you to understand the nature of their call or to get vital information from them to resolve the debt situation.

You should try and do this as clearly as possible asking appropriate questions but without asking an excessive and unnecessary amount. Never use jargon and only use commonly accepted abbreviations, never use HMRC specific abbreviations. Always try and ask open questions to gather information and closed questions to summarise the information.

Open questions

Open questioning technique involves you asking questions that cannot be answered simply by a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. These type of questions are best when asking the customer to explain their situation or query and for information gathering. For example:

“What is preventing you from making payment in full today?”

“Please give me a list of your outgoings.”

“What can we do to prevent this happening again?”

Closed questions

Closed questions are literally the opposite of open in that you are seeking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. These types of questions are good for confirming information and for summarising the query or overall call. For example:

‘’Did you work in the year 2010-11?’’

‘’You are going to pay an initial payment of £1,000 today and three monthly amounts of £300, is that correct?’’

By using your questioning techniques correctly you should find that you are able to manage the call in the most effective manner.

These are only two of the types of questions you can use, for further guidance see the information concerning Professional Debt Recovery Skills in DMBM510325.